British Judge Ordered to Watch 'Jerry Springer Show' for Trial

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A British Court of Appeal judge on Tuesday ordered a trial to settle a dispute between distributors of "The Jerry Springer Show" and a company claiming the program became too strong for local tastes.

In effect, the Court of Appeal ordered a Commercial Court judge to watch samples of the show.

Flextech Television, which provides 10 channels of programming for British cable operator NTL Inc., contends it was entitled to cancel its "Springer" deal with Universal Studios International because it became impossible to air some episodes without violating British broadcasting rules.

Flextech entered into a contract in 1998 that committed it to "Springer" as long as the show was running in the United States. By 2001, Flextech contends, the "vast majority" of episodes contained content that was unsuitable for daytime viewing and did not comply with the Independent Television Commission code.

Universal contends the content changed little over the years.

In his ruling, Lord Justice David Neuberger referred the case to the Queen's Bench Commercial Division of the High Court for trial.

Neuberger said it was up to a trial judge to decide whether content had changed enough to amount to a breach of contract.

"It must be necessary for the judge who determines such issues to see at least some of the episodes," he wrote.

Neuberger encouraged both sides to agree on "a sensible basis" upon which the trial judge can reach a conclusion "without having to view anything like the totality of all the episodes."

Lawyers say the total runs some 400 hours.